Perspectives on Psychological Influence in Education

The key problem of the readings of this week is that psychology and research in the field of education do not properly reflect the needs and specifics of teaching and learning in schools. Dewey (1900) states that psychology is expected to form the basis for teaching children and adolescents, paying particular attention to their growth. Compared to adults, who have already established frameworks and specialization, children develop and grow through education. However, modern education seems to fail to equip students with the necessary skills to apply in their adulthood. In schools, all the materials, theories, and strategies are preselected, while the goals are also chosen by teachers, which are accompanied by the excessive use of analytic methods. In turn, Egan (2005) claims that education research seems to be far from responding to the reality of schools. In other words, the theories by Piaget, Rousseau, and others that are used by researchers do not make a significant impact on education due to a lack of empirical results.

One of the reasons for the above problem is that teachers cannot fully grasp the ideas provided by research and psychology, choosing the predetermined ways of teaching. According to Dewey (1900), educators should not only be aware of the proper educational psychology implications but also understand their importance and potential benefits. However, the author also argues that this is the work of the educational theorist, who should connect psychologists and educational practitioners. This means that the identified issue should be targeted at a larger scale. A similar idea is reported by Egan (2005), who reviews the assumptions of theorists to understand the appropriateness of empirical and ideological foundations of education. For example, Spenser claimed that teachers should begin education with known and simple issues, gradually moving to complex and abstract matters (as cited in Egan, 2005). Accordingly, teachers should apply relevant teaching methods and materials to encourage child development.

The evidence shows criticism towards the paradigm of simple to complex learning, as it can be viewed from the study by Egan (2005). This author argues that if teachers and students would focus on this paradigm only, there will be regress and inability to teach novelty. This approach also fails to take into account that children have imaginations and can think outside their experience. In this connection, social science research seems to be poorly linked to how exactly children think and learn in reality. Therefore, there is a need for further research that should produce educational theories of development, making them sensitive to the nature of child education rather than focusing on research or psychology.

As for psychological theories that are used by teachers, Dewey (1900) points out that they are abstract in many cases. Since teachers and children are constantly interacting with each other and other people in society, proper psychologic education cannot be abstract. Teachers should adjust and transform the theories and avoid considering students and teaching methods as mechanisms. Instead, they are expected to relate psychology to education and view students as active participants of learning and unique identities (Dewey, 1900). Consciousness and value should be put at the core of the educational process, and psychology should never be regarded as a ready-made set of materials. Thus, the generation of new knowledge and the continuous adaptation of psychology and research should be integral parts of education.


Dewey, J. (1900). Psychology and social practice. Psychological Review, 7, 105-125. Web.

Egan, K. (2005). Students’ development in theory and practice: The doubtful role of research. Harvard Educational Review, 75(1), 25-41.

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